Bowl season is over for Conference USA, but conference play is just about underway in basketball. We've got some good ones to look forward to as the first week of conference provides some real interesting matchups. As a whole we did great prior to the start of league games. None of the 12 C-USA teams are under .500 at this point, and the top 9 have a record of 8-5 or better. This week will definitely give us some insight as to how good some of these teams really are. Here are the games of the week.
5.) CBB: Southern Mississippi (11-2) @ Marshall (10-3) January 8th 7:00 p.m. et
A matchup of two teams who won 10+ games in non-conference. The Golden Eagles only loss came on the road at Ole Miss, and at home versus Colorado St. They also have some solid wins at USF, at CAL, and against Saint Louis. Marshall dropped some games early in the season to Chatanooga and Louisville, but have won 7 of 8 since. The Thundering Herd take on nationally ranked UCF on Wednesday which will definitely show us where they stand.
OUTLOOK: Gary Flowers is big time, he's shooting better than 50% from 3. So. Miss in a close one 78-74.
4.) CBB: Marshall (10-3) @ No. 18 Central Florida (13-0) January 5th 7:00 et
UCF has done nothing but knock down everyone that has stood in their way. They are led by sophomores Keith Clanton and Marcus Jordan. Both players are averaging about 16 points a game and shooting better than 45% from beyond the arc. Marshall is definitely a talented team also, but UCF is too tough at home.
OUTLOOK: Thirteen in a row, and nothings changing right now. UCF 81-70.
3.) CBB: UTEP (12-3) @ Alabama-Birmingham (10-2) January 8th 4:00 p.m. et
The Blazers have four players averaging double figures in points. Jamar Sanders and Cameron Moore both average 17+ a game, while Aaron Johnson and Ovie Soko average about 10 a contest. Their only two losses were on the road at ASU by 3, and at Georgia by 2. Mike Davis is a great coach, and one thing that's guaranteed is his team will be ready to play. The Miners can beat anyone in conference, but have been playing fairly inconsistent as of late, and haven't done much on the road yet. This will be another big test.
OUTLOOK: I really hope I'm wrong, but we usually don't play well on the road. UAB takes it 77-72.
2.) CBB: No. 22 Memphis (11-2) @ Tennessee (9-4) January 5th 9:00 p.m. et
A matchup of two teams who have underachieved thus far this season. Memphis came into the year with one of the best recruiting classes in the country, but have yet to really put it together. They have struggled against much lesser competition, and have dropped the big games that would've proven a lot. Tennessee got up to no. 7 in the nation midway through December, but quickly dropped as they lost three in a row to Oakland, Charlotte, and USC. This one is a must win for Memphis if they want to stay relevant in the national conversation.
OUTLOOK: The Tigers win their first big game of the season, 68-65.
1.) Alabama-Birmingham (10-2) @ No. 1 DUKE (13-0) January 5th 7:00 p.m. et
We've already heard about UAB so here it goes with DUKE. Reigning national champions, no. 1 in the nation, Coach K, Cameron Crazies, enough said. I don't think there is any way UAB wins this one, but they will keep it closer than people think.
OUTLOOK: DUKE moves to 14-0, 86-72.
CBB: OLE MISS (11-3) @ Southern Methodist (9-4) January 5th 7:00 p.m. et
SMU started 4-4, but have won 5 straight to get to 9-4. Ole Miss has played a decent non-conference schedule and got 11 wins out of it.
OUTLOOK: Ole Miss wins a close one, 71-67.
CBB: Tulsa (7-6) @ UTEP (12-3) January 5th 9:05 p.m. et
Tulsa lost a lot from last year's team, namely big man Jerome Jordan. The Miners continue to roll at home.
OUTLOOK: UTEP improves to 13-3, 76-68.